Vinyl cafe podcasting and language learning ideas – two totally unrelated topics

I discovered recently that the Vinyl Cafe has started podcasting. This makes me happy. I love the stories that Stuart McLean writes about Dave and his family. It’ll be a great and entertaining addition to my listening material for when I drive the long distance to Chiang Mai and back again.

In other news, I am undecided about what to study next in my language lessons. Since I finished the prayer module a few weeks ago, I’ve touched on various subjects with my language helper but I still haven’t chosen anything. Up until the end of this summer, I had a language book to work through; it contained language modules that previous missionaries had put together. I too will be creating new modules for the language program – basically from here on in, I’ll be doing that. I’m going to have to put in a whole lot more work into my language studies in order to make the most out of my language lessons. I hope that this is easier to do once the big meeting is done at the end of the month. Sometimes I feel like planning it (the big meeting) has consumed me… I have enjoyed some aspects of planning it but other aspects… have been… challenging… a little over my head and my Thai language capabilities (which have definitely regressed since learning Thai-yai). But it has been encouraging to see God answer my prayers about it – big issues and the little details too.

I’ve started learning how to cook Thai-yai food as a part of my language lessons. Technically it’s something that my language helper has been showing me how to do for about a year now, but I still don’t know. [dark blush of embarrassment] For about 2 weeks now I’ve been writing down the recipes before we start to cook together AND THEN I cook with SW. I’ve tried out some of recipes during my own time and they’ve turned out pretty well, which is always encouraging. Maybe I’ll post one or two the recipes on here and you can try making Thai-yai food at home… so long as you can find the ingredients.

Lori’s been happy to eat the dishes I’ve made and now has a love for ‘maak kheua kheu’ (the main ingredient in one of the recipes I’ve “mastered”). It’s a green, pair shaped vegetable that I’ve only seen in this area of Thailand; I have no idea what it’s called in English and I can’t think of any other vegetable that it’s similar to. It grows on a vine and apparently needs to grow in cooler weather, which explains why I haven’t seen it anywhere else in Thailand. I know of only one village that produces ‘maak kheua kheu’ (Tomato Village) but I’m sure there are a few other places that also grow it. Lori has grown to love it so much that the other day she filled up the crisper with a kilo of it (which equals about 6 individual ‘maak kheua kheu’). It’s actually one of my favourite vegetables here as well and since it’s seasonal, we may as well eat lots of it while it’s available. [When you peel it before chopping it up, there is some liquid that oozes out and the hand that was holding it while you were peeling will have its skin peel slightly. Ew. That’s some powerful liquid there. Strange to think of cooking and eating it if that’s what it does to your skin when it’s raw.]

Along with food, I’ve been trying to write and record language drills to help me with similar sounding words, or words that I’m not too sure how to use (learning to use which word in which context). I’ve also been looking more at Thai-yai culture and conversation topics. Just this week I started reading a book called “Who Can Compete Against the World?” by Nicola Tannenbaum. In it, the author focuses on the worldview of the Thai-yai people – specifically how the idea of power-protection and Buddhism fit together in their worldview (the incorporation of animist and Buddhist practices in their religion and, as a result, their worldview). It may be an interesting way to combine my language studies with learning the culture of the Thai-yai. Although I’m not very far into the book, I’ve already been able to connect textbook with real life, as its contents bring to mind much of what I’ve seen in my village. The unfortunate thing is that Tannenbaum doesn’t include any Thai-yai text in her book and her English versions of Thai-yai and Thai words are sometimes difficult to interpret. Often words are in Thai when it would be that much better if they were in Thai-yai. However, all these things and much more will generate good discussion during my language lessons and possibly with my neighbours as well.

All that to say, I’d appreciate your prayers in regards to direction with my language studies and that the Lord would help me to persevere in learning Thai-yai. Thanks!

[Added Notes: A friend of mine was actually familiar with the type of vegetable I mentioned above. She said it’s called a ‘choko.’ Since then, I discovered on Wikipedia that they’re also known as ‘chayote‘ as well as other names, depending where you are in the world. Thanks Lee-anne!

Roy in Vietnam commented on another post of mine and said that he thinks the above vegetable might be known as “bitter gourd” (when translated from Vietnamese) and it’s “usually stuffed with meat in a watery soup! Or mixed with egg and quick fried.” Could be the same as the choko/chayote… Thanks Roy!]

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